Four existing titles were imported into the series:

King John - First published in 1961 by Eyre and Spottiswoode (before they created the series) and republished many times before Yale’s version.

James II - First published in 1978 by Wayland.

Queen Anne - First published in 1980 by Routledge & Kegan Paul.

George I - First published in 1978 by Thames & Hudson (UK) and Harvard (USA).


Three series titles were new versions of earlier works:

Richard I (1997) - A concise version of Richard’s biography was written for the 'Kings and Queens of England' series and published in 1973. It was expanded as a popular history title in 1978. Gillingham's Yale Richard is an expansion and re-write of the 1978 book.

Queen Anne (2001) - The first edition was printed in 1980. The author revisited the book after new documents became available and a second edition was written for Yale. Additionally, Queen Anne is the only book that is both imported into the series and a rework of an existing title - by virtue of its second edition.

William the Conqueror (2016) - The Yale biography was preceded by the author’s 1989 work on William for Tempus Publishing, with revisions to this book in 2001 and 2004. The Yale book, although a complete reworking, is the culmination of Professor Bates’ lifetime's work on William and the Normans over many years of scholarship.

Additionally, Richard III (2019) by Michael Hicks, not in the series, was the latest writing by the author which derives from his 1991 biography of Richard.


Queen Anne was printed by Yale in paperback for its second (revised) edition in 2001. The first edition had been published in hardback in 1980 by Routledge & Kegan Paul but as yet Yale has not printed a hardback version of the 2nd edition.


One title was never issued in North America in Hardback; Henry VI was only issued in the UK and Commonwealth countries by Methuen in 1981. It wasn’t distributed elsewhere. The book first saw publication in North America with the 2001 Yale paperback printing.


It’s normal for the older series titles to have been issued by several of the series' publishers over the years, but several books have seen print by other publishers. The additional publishers only are listed:

King John: Eyre & Spottiswoode, Norton, Penguin, Eyre Methuen, University of California Press, Barnes & Noble.

James II: Wayland, Methuen (but not as a series book).

Queen Anne: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ark.

George I: Thames & Hudson UK/Harvard USA

Henry VIII: Pelican


Methuen was keen on presenting their English Monarchs covers with a portrait of the monarch in a woodgrain border. The following titles were issued in this format, and is very familiar to early readers in the series.

William the Conqueror (reprints)

Henry VIII (reprints)

Edward the Confessor

Henry VII (reprints)

Henry II

Edward IV (reprints)

Henry VI

Richard III

William Rufus

Edward I

Henry V

*After Henry V in 1992 Yale acquired the series and the format changed with the subsequent book, Richard II, in 1997.


King John has been issued eight times with nine different covers:

1961 (Eyre & Spottiswoode, UK & Norton, USA - but with different covers)

1964 (Eyre & Spottiswoode)

1966 (Penguin)

1978 (Eyre Methuen)

1978 (California University Press)

1996 (Barnes and Noble)

1997 (Yale)

2008 Yale (new paperback cover)


Three English Monarchs books stand out as heavy reading and, per kilogram, purchasers get their money's worth from Henry II (W.L. Warren), Edward III (W. Mark Ormrod), and Henry III (David Carpenter). For nearly fifty years Henry II held the record as the longest book judged by the narrative text of 630 pages and 693 pages in total, although Edward III was the longer book if the lengthy bibliography and index are considered. It has 603 pages of text and 721 pages in total. Neither though can match Henry III which has 716 pages of text and 763 pages in total for the first volume and 639 pages of text and 711 pages in total for the second volume.


David Carpenter's Henry III holds this record of about forty years. The biography of Henry III was listed as a forthcoming title as far back as 1989. We now know from Professor Carpenter's introduction to volume two of the work that he was commissioned in the early 1980s, "Forty years ago" in his words. The author commenced the book but was diverted into writing instead the history of King Henry's minority, itself a massive work and effectively a prologue to his two-volume biographical history of Henry's reign.


These books have one cover consistent on both the hardback and paperback printings:

George III

Edward II

King Stephen

George II


Mary I

Edward III

* Other books, such as Cnut for example, have modified covers for the later paperback, but these nevertheless are different.


It would be a reasonable assumption to make that the first book in the series is also the oldest. This is not true of English Monarchs. The first book published in the series is William the Conqueror (1964). However, the first published book in the series is King John (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1961). King John was first released a full three years before William the Conqueror and by the series' first publisher too! It was never part of the series until brought into it by Yale in 1997, at the time they acquired the series. King John was also the oldest book introduced to the series; it was thirty-six years old when Yale added it.


Two books were promised but abandoned - and remain without a series author:

Alfred the Great, and William and Mary.


Number of books by the series’ publshers issued as new titles:

Eyre & Spottiswoode: 2*

Eyre Methuen: 3*

Methuen: 7*

*or 12 as one continuous publishing house

University of California Press: 10

University of Alabama Press: 1

Yale: 21 - with a further book in preparation.

*Including the 4 books imported into the series by Yale but not including the 7 ‘Companion’ books.     


Authors with two books in the series:

Frank Barlow (Edward the Confessor; William II)

Charles Ross (Edward IV; Richard III)

Wilfred Warren (Henry II; King John)

*David Douglas (the first series editor and author) was considering writing the Edward the Confessor title but gave it to Barlow. David Carpenter will have two books in the series; these are volume one and volume two of the same work and not two separate titles.


This role has changed under Yale's watch, but there remains one individual in charge under Yale just as there was when Eyre and Spottiswoode issued the first book in 1964. J.J. Scarisbrick was the editor for twenty-three years, as far as can be determined. He seems to have parted company with Yale in 2004, although this may be slightly before or after that year.


One Yale hardback has the format otherwise given only to the Yale paperbacks and none other in hardback form: Richard II was issued as a hardback with the blue and white format: a white cover and small portrait with a blue band on the covers and spine. It has never been issued in hardback with another cover. The next new hardback published (George IV) proudly wore the full-cover portrait.

Edward the Confessor, King John, Edward I, Henry V, Edward IV, and Henry VIII were also published in hardback with this style of cover in 1997, but it wasn't the first printing for any of these books.


James I by David Mathew, the second book in the series, was issued only once - in 1967 (1968 in the USA) - and never reprinted. It was also retired from the series by Yale. Needless to say, this book has been forgotten except perhaps by collectors.


Two English Monarchs books have managed to be in a second series:

Henry VIII (1968) was published in paperback by Penguin in 1971 under the Pelican imprint and named in the Pelican Biographies series. This was a series of, ultimately, twenty-four books which ceased in the 1970s with only two monarchical biographies. Only these two titles in the ’series’ could be considered history books.

William the Conqueror (1964) was issued by Methuen in 1969 as part of the University Paperbacks range.

The Pelican Biographies and the University Paperbacks ranges were less than a series and more of an umbrella program to re-publish important texts in paperback for a general audience. Both of these paperback versions of English Monarchs titles were issued for a mass market at a time when the market for paperbacks was still developing.


The book series stretches back to 1964, but another view is that the experience behind it spans three centuries. The cohort of authors of books in the series born before the Second World War starts with David Douglas who was born in the nineteenth-century:

David Douglas (1898)

David Mathew (1902)

S.B. Chrimes (1907)

Frank Barlow (1911)

Ragnhild Hatton (1913)

Bertram Wolffe (1922)

Charles Ross (1924)

J.J. Scarisbrick (1928)

W.L. Warren (1929)

C. Warren Hollister (1930)

Christopher Allmand (1936)


From 2011 Yale moved to use a mix of recycled and new paper in the English Monarchs books, the "Companion" titles, and many others in their catalogue. The books issued in at least the first printing on this paper can be identified by the FSC logo on the title page verso.

These books are, in order of publication:

Mary I

Edward III

William the Conqueror

Henry IV


Young Henry



Richard III

Henry III (both volumes)

Edward the Confessor


*and presumably all the titles yet to come.


A long-rinning series with many hands at the tiller creates some unique moments. The following is a collection of oddities to amuse and entertain.